BrainSTARS: Regulation of Emotion

Jeanne E. Dise-Lewis, PhD, Margaret Lohr Calvery, PhD, and Hal C. Lewis, PhD, BrainSTARS
BrainSTARS: Emotion Regulation

Use everyday activities to build skills:

  • Watch a favorite TV show with your child and talk about feelings, behaviors, choices, and outcomes depicted.
  • Talk about the relationship between feelings and behavior as part of everyday conversations. Use examples from your own day to illustrate how feelings might cause us to make poor decisions. Brainstorm better solutions.

Change the Environment

  • Anticipate situations that will evoke emotional reactions, such as those illustrated above. Practice appropriate responses to those situations in advance.
  • Provide supervision at all times. Reduce supervision gradually as your child shows the ability to exert control over himself. Providing supervision is easier to do when a child is young, but it may be necessary to provide more supervision than is normally necessary during all stages of your child’s development.

Teach New Skills:

  • During calm moments, teach your child what to do when he is angry or frustrated, and practice these responses. Help him learn behaviors that  “blow off steam” and release physical tension:
    • stomping his feet
    • throwing balls into a basket
    • running around the gym
    • throwing balls against a wall
    • ripping up paperspunching a pillow
  • Teach alternatives to swear words for your child to use in the “heat of the moment.”
    • “I’m telling”
    • “Forget it!”
    • “Rats!”
    • “I’m outta here!”
    • “This is dumb”
  • Help your child distinguish a “big problem” from a little problem” and ask him/her to identify problems as such during the day.  Make a list of the problems that your child encounters and separate them into “big problems” and “little problems,” so that she can feel some control over her emotions and pride in competent handling of smaller and then bigger problems.
  • Your responses to stress will be imitated.  Model behaviors you want your child to demonstrate.
  • Practice seeing someone else’s point of view with the following activities:
    • Have your student pretend to be the teacher and make a list of classroom rules.
    • Have your student “take on” different personalities in a conflict to illustrate how others might feel and respond.
    • In classroom discussions, have each student restate or “put in his own words” what the other has said before stating his point of view. 
Posted on BrainLine January 31, 2013.

From BrainSTARS, Brain Injury: Strategies for Teams And Re-education for Students, © 2002 Jeanne Dise-Lewis, PhD. Used with permission. The manual is available in English and Spanish. For more information or to order copies, call 720.777.5470 or A short video on how to use the BrainSTARS manual is available at